Suspected Witches: Burned Alive, Beaten, Stoned, Cast Out

11 01 2009

Suspected witches are being burned while still alive in Papua New Guinea. The Salem Witch Trials were in Massachusetts in 1692 – 1693. Out of 150 people arrested, 19 were put to death for the felony of being a witch. Many more people today who are charged with being witches are being burned while still alive.

Today they don’t get a trial…they are just taken from their homes…just like a young woman betweeen the ages of 16 and 21 who was recently dragged, stripped, gagged, tied to a pole, and burned to death after being accused of having an affair, giving the man AIDS, and being a witch. With the rise of AIDS in that region, many blame it on witchcraft.

In February, 2008 a pregnant woman and her husband were both accused of being witches when their neighbor suddenly died and they were dragged from their home and hung from a tree. The woman gave birth to the baby while struggling to free herself and she, her husband, and the baby all survived.

In Ghana, widows and women considered too old to marry are often accused of being witches. It is considered a way to keep women subservient. If they are lucky enough to escape being killed, many flee or are sent to one of the six “witches” camps, where 1000 women live. Some accused witches are just shunned. More than 90% of Ghana’s 21 million inhabitants fear falling under a witch’s spell.

Allison Berg did a documentary in 2005 entitled “Witches in Exile,” which won many awards. You can read more about the film here.  A woman who is accused of being a witch is often stoned or beaten and then take to a special priest who supposedly has powers of determing if she is a witch. She drinks a special concoction, a chicken is killed, and how the chicken dies determines if the woman is a witch or not.

Women all over the world suffer horrible abuses just upon a whim of someone’s suspicion, because people can’t explain things, to satisfy their own selfish needs, or to maintain family “honor”. If you want to do something to help end violence and discrimination against women and girls throughout the world, Equality Now is an excellent organization and could use your support.




One response

16 01 2009

Brings me to remember the lyrics by Neal Peart:

Witch Hunt

The night is black
Without a moon
The air is thick and still
The vigilantes gather on
The lonely torch lit hill

Features distorted in the flickering light
The faces are twisted and grotesque
Silent and stern in the sweltering night
The mob moves like demons possessed
Quiet in conscience, calm in their right
Confident their ways are best

The righteous rise
With burning eyes
Of hatred and ill-will
Madmen fed on fear and lies
To beat and burn and kill

Quick to judge
Quick to anger
Slow to understand
Ignorance and prejudice
And fear walk hand in hand…

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